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Advice from a Lactation Consultant, Part 2: Be prepared! Work on Latch BEFORE You Hatch

November 30, 2015

We are again thrilled to have Beth Meeker, BSN, RNC, IBCLC, lactation consultant at Troy Beaumont, providing us advice and insights into breastfeeding. We started with Part 1: An Introduction last week, and there will be more to come in the weeks to follow. We appreciate all the questions that have been asked on facebook, and we will get to them all in time.

What do you think new mom’s expectations about breastfeeding are during pregnancy and how do they conflict with reality?

I have noticed over my 20 year career as a lactation consultant that many mothers understand the benefits of breast milk to the baby and decide early on in pregnancy that they will breastfeed, but then they forget about it for the remainder of the pregnancy. They seem to expect that their babies will know what to do and assume that “it is natural” and so it will be easy. When it is not as easy as they expected, they wish they had been better prepared.

How can first time moms prepare for breastfeeding, while they are still pregnant?

I would suggest that you have a discussion with your OB physician or midwife about breastfeeding that should include an exam of your anatomy. Some mothers have had breast surgery, or have nipple variations that may affect latching. Mothers with flat nipples can begin at 36 weeks pregnant wearing shells for 20-30 minutes 3 times a day to stretch out their nipples and make them easier for baby to latch. Check with your health care provider first. Nipple shells can be purchased where other breastfeeding products are sold. Medela or Ameda are some manufacturers.

I cannot emphasize enough how helpful breastfeeding classes are during pregnancy. Questions I hear almost daily from new moms are, I do not have any milk but my baby is crying, what should I do? Just after birth my baby fed well, but then slept and did not breastfeed for 8 hours, I am so worried.  My baby was fussy most of last night, I don’t have enough milk for her. What can I do?

Here is where I am able to identify mothers who went to a breastfeeding class or researched breastfeeding before delivery versus mothers who have not. The prepared mothers seem to be calmer, spending time skin-to-skin with their babies, or catching up on sleep as their babies does the same, in natural recovery after birth. These mothers seem to be feel the most confident about breastfeeding upon discharge home.

I strongly recommend that mothers who plan to breastfeed should prepare by learning during pregnancy how to position the baby while nursing, supporting and guiding the breast, timeline for milk production, what to expect from infants the first few days to week after birth, and how to console your baby.  As with all things, make sure you are using valuable resources. I recently had a discussion with a new mother who told me she watched YouTube videos as her preparation for breastfeeding. When I asked what she learned, she told me about Breastfeeding benefits, but nothing about how to hold her baby to latch. I caution mothers who think that YouTube will teach you everything you need to know. There is a lot of insufficient or even misguiding information on the internet. Be discerning.

We also recommend that mothers try to exclusively breast feed for the first 2 weeks after birth and will assist them in the acheivement of this goal. We advise against the supplementation of formula or the use of pacifiers if at all possible, with long-term breast feeding success in mind.  We understand that this is not always possible and can be difficult, which is why we promote preparation and patience!

What are good resources for moms who want to be prepared?

Listed are several resources I have reviewed that I feel give good accurate information about breastfeeding. I did not list books as there are many good ones to choose from.

Beaumont offers a 3 hour class to help parents learn about breastfeeding. Check it out here. It is described as, “This class is great for expectant moms — and dads — who want to learn more about initiating breastfeeding and nursing during the first few weeks. During the class, Beaumont’s breastfeeding specialists discuss getting breastfeeding started, the nutritional value of breast milk, anatomy of the breast, positioning, latching, dad’s role in nursing, problem solving, resources and more. Expectant fathers are encouraged to attend the class, too.”

If scheduling a class is a concern, there is also an online option here through Beaumont and another excellent online source is from womenshealth.gov.

You can also search ePublications for “Your Guide to Breastfeeding”, a 48 page booklet that can be downloaded for your convenience.

If you are looking for a good app (there are many apps available that give you feeding and pumping logs, diaper logs, etc),  Beth and her peers have reviewed some and recommend: ‘Coeffective’ and ‘Breastfeeding Solutions.’

Thanks again to Beth for sharing her wisdom and experience. Check back later for discussion on skin-to-skin, lessons in latching, babies born a little early…and more!

As always, if you have specific questions about your health or your baby’s, please contact your OBGYN provider or pediatrician. Oakland Macomb OBGYN is not affiliated with any breastfeeding website, app, or product line. We encouarge you to do your own research from sound sources, be prepared, and always ask questions.

Be well!

sz, pa-c

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